Monitoring Marsh and Estuary Resilience to Sea Level Rise (Nature Trust BC)
Graphic recording of session by Savanna Young.
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Assessing Estuaries’ Resilience to Sea-Level Rise
Estuaries and coastal wetlands comprise less than 3% of BC’s coastline, yet they support over 80% of BC’s coastal fish and wildlife, and provide critical rearing and staging habitat for Pacific salmon. Estuary ecosystems are particularly sensitive to the impacts of sea-level rise. Fine-scale changes in water depth can result in the drowning of tidal marsh habitats or significant changes to vegetation community composition. Not all estuaries are equally vulnerable however; the most resilient receive adequate sediment or build soils in pace with sea-level rise, while others may have been disconnected from the rivers that deliver their natural sediment supply.
The U.S. National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) has developed the Marsh Resilience to Sea-Level Rise (MARS) tool - a monitoring approach designed to assess and rank the vulnerability of estuaries to sea-level rise. The NERRS undertook a large study in which 16 sites across the U.S. were assessed and ranked. In 2019, The Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC), in partnership with the West Coast Conservation Land Management Program (WCCLMP) and Coastal First Nations, secured a contribution agreement under The BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BC SRIF) to implement their five year project, entitled Enhancing Estuary Resilience: An Innovative Approach to Sustaining Fish and Fish Habitat in a Changing Climate. The NTBC’s monitoring program will implement the MARS tool at 15 estuaries along the coast of BC, extending the coverage of the NERRS study northwards along the west coast of North America, providing a Canadian context.
We will present an overview of the MARS monitoring metrics, data collection methods, and discuss some of the challenges associated with data collection.
Workshops are scheduled for 1:30-3:00 PM PST.